Jefferson Park Ministries Looks Back On A Year Serving The Haitian Evacuee Community

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ELIZABETH – On Jan. 12, 2010 an earthquake registering 7.0, centered 16 miles from Port-au-Prince, tore Haiti apart.  Scenes of devastation shocked the world and moved people into action.  Caring for evacuees fleeing the destruction became the cause of Jefferson Park Ministries (JPM) in Elizabeth.  Based strongly in the Haitian community, The JPM Family Success Center worked tirelessly to welcome the evacuees and help them acclimate to their new world.  On Feb. 1, 2011 JPM released its report examining the success they have achieved in the year following the earthquake.

“The goal of Jefferson Park Ministries Family Success Center is to be the voice, heart and hands of the evacuee community,” said Executive Director Catherine Saintilien. “Since the earthquake, we have served 1,480 evacuees; helping them with everything from food and housing assistance to ESL classes.  With the help of partners like United Way and Union County College as well as support from the state, we can continue to improve the lives of this community.”

“We have done much since the earthquake, but there is still much more to do,” said James W. Horne Jr., president and CEO of United Way of Greater Union County.  “United Way is looking forward to working with JPM to help rebuild the lives of those affected by this disaster.”

Lisa von Pier, director of the Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships, within the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, said that through their work “JPM has become a sacred place for Elizabeth and the Haitian community.”

Dr. Barbara Gaba, provost of Union County College, recounted the college’s work with JPM, turning a disused library into a relief center that has served over 500 evacuees.  NJ for Haiti Executive Director Stanley Neron spoke of the work his organization was able to accomplish thanks to the support of JPM.

JPM has released a report of their success serving the Haitian evacuee community in the Elizabeth area.  Three hundred and fifty families have registered with the Family Success Center for assistance as well as 80 single individuals.  JPM has offered a wide selection of services for evacuees including: ESL classes, grief counseling, food and housing support, tutoring and health screenings.  The event commemorating the anniversary of the earthquake also included Haitian music and several evacuees spoke of their experiences working with JPM.

The JPM Family Success Center is a community-based, family centered neighborhood gathering places where any community resident can go for family support, information and services.  The purpose of Family Success Centers is to enrich the lives of children and adults by making families and neighborhoods stronger.


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